Tallahassee Journal

Jordan renews prisoner swap offer after ISIL claims to behead hostage

Jordan renews prisoner swap offer after ISIL claims to behead hostage

Jordan renewed its offer to exchange an al-Qaeda prisoner for a fighter pilot held hostage by the Islamic State on Sunday, as outrage and grief gripped Japan after the militant group released a video online that purports to show the beheading of hostage Kenji Goto. The extremists last week demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an al-Qaeda prisoner who faces death by hanging for her role in triple hotel bombings in Jordan in 2005. Jordan offered to exchange her for Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh.635583480398125858-EPA-epaselect-JAPAN-ISLAMIC-STATE-HOSTAGES

An audio message last week, purportedly from the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, only said the pilot would be killed if al-Rishawi were not released Thursday. The deadline passed after Jordan said it cannot free her without proof al-Kaseasbeh is alive. Jordan’s government condemned Goto’s killing Sunday. Its spokesman Mohammad Momani said: “The group has rejected all attempts made by the concerned authorities to secure the release of the Japanese hostage,” Jordanian news agency Petra reported.

Momani said that Jordan was continuing its efforts to get proof that al-Kaseasbeh is still alive, and secure his release and return to Jordan. The grim video of the apparent beheading of Goto, a journalist, was released via militant websites late Saturday, and bore the symbols of previous ISIL tapes. Japan’s defense minister, Gen Nakatani, said the police agency deemed the video “highly likely to be authentic.”

“When I think about the unbearable pain and sorrow that his family must be feeling, I am rendered simply speechless,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “As a government, we have pursued every possible means to save their lives. We feel greatest sorrow and profound grief. “I am infuriated by these inhumane and despicable acts of terrorism, and resolutely condemn these impermissible and outrageous acts. I will never forgive these terrorists. I will work with the international community to hold them responsible for their deplorable acts.” Abe said Japan will never give in to terrorism. “We will further expand our humanitarian assistance in the Middle East in areas such as food and medical care,” he said.